Sunday, November 22, 2020

Email Branding Done Right

This email popped into my inbox last night:

I don’t know this person. I expressed interest in their product by opting in to one of their offers (exchanging my email address for their information).

Already I’m feeling positive about the potential relationship, even though I know they want to sell me something.

This simple response to an inquiry checked a lot of important boxes:

  1. My expectations have been managed: I won’t be annoyed if I don’t hear back immediately (although I sorta did with this message)
  2. I don’t feel ignored … in fact, I feel respected
  3. I feel like I’m part of a conversation, not being talked at, with a real person
  4. I kinda like this guy … seems like a decent, trustworthy sort

Strong branding.

Good salesmanship.

Lots of power in a few well-chosen words.

Every contact with a prospect or customer set you up for future success or future failure. 

Are you maximizing every opportunity to move your personal and/or company branding in the right direction?

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Thomas Edison – Candy Butcher

We are all familiar with the amazing Thomas Alva Edison.

We know about the light bulb and other patents (1093 of 'em). He's lauded as a great inventor, but he was also an incredibly shrewd promoter with a keen, opportunistic eye.
Thomas Alva Edison,  Candy Butcher

Let me tell you a story about Edison that you might not know.
As a teenager, Edison had a job as a “candy butcher” selling candy, fruit, sandwiches, newspapers and magazines to passengers on the Grand Trunk Railroad.
In April 1862, when Edison was at the Detroit Free Press picking up newspapers, he took special notice of that day's front page. The lead story was about the battle of Shiloh. The battle was still going on and 25,000 were wounded or killed.
This was at the beginning of the US Civil War and people were eager for news; so instead of his typical 100 newspaper purchase, Edison bought 1,000 and paid a telegraph operator in Detroit to send news of the battle to all the stops on the train line. 

When the train arrived at the station, there were so many people crowed for papers that he raised the price to 10-cents a copy and by the time he got back to Port Huron, the price was 25-cents.

Here are 15 of my favorite quotes attributed to “the Wizard of Menlo Park” who was described in The Heroes of The Age: Electricity and Man as being “... more responsible than anyone else for creating the modern world .... No one did more to shape the physical/cultural makeup of present day civilization.... Accordingly, he was the most influential figure of the millennium...." 

“Anything that won't sell, I don't want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.” 

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

“I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun.”

“I never did anything by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.”

“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” 

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense.” 

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” 

“Unfortunately, there seems to be far more opportunity out there than ability…. We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.” 

“Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless.” 

“Your worth consists in what you are and not in what you have.” 

“What you are will show in what you do.” 

“I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.” 

“If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves….”


This blog is about copy and content writing and so far, nothing about writing. 

What's up?

OK ... maybe it's not focused on writing, however, if you use it as an example, there are some lessons to be learned:
  1. Name dropping, such as Thomas Edison, can get attention and interest
  2. An unusual word combination, such as "candy butcher" can get attention and interest
  3. Storytelling, such as Edison's newspaper marketing, can hold interest and sell a concept, such as Edison was a promoter as well as an inventor
  4. Along with getting attention and interest, quotes can build credibility
  5. Reading material other than material about writing is good for writers

There are also some messages in the quotes for writers. For example, when Edison says, “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it,” it parallels the copywriting advice of targeting a specific audience with a benefit they want.

My point? 

Read and you will be a better writer.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Earworms Test

Music can evoke memories. 

Not just popular songs, though.

When I think back on the sound track of my youth, a good proportion of that music is jingles from ads.

When shown the words below, I immediately hear the music that accompanied them ... I also associate these words and music with their product or company. If you are an American of a certain age, you can, too.

Can you match the "jingle" in the first column to the product/company in the second (I mixed 'em up)?

            I don't want to grow up                                                State Farm

            Gimme a break,
            gimme a break                                                            Alka Seltzer

            My bologna has a first name                                      Folgers

            Sometimes you feel like a nut                                    Big Red 

            They're magically delicious                                        Oscar Meyer

            Plop, plop, fizz, fizz,
            oh what a relief it is                                                    Toys R Us

            The best part of waking up                                        Lucky Charms

            I'm a big kid now                                                        Coca-Cola

            I'd like to teach the world to sing                                Almond Joy 

            So kiss a little longer,
            hold hands a little longer                                            Huggies

            Like a good neighbor                                                 McDonalds

            You deserve a break today                                        Kit-Kat

How'd you do? Scroll down if you want to test your score.

I didn't want to post a dozen videos, so here are two videos that cover 30 commercial jingles. Some that aren't on the list above, but you'll recognize 'em:

Missing one you're dying to hear? You can probably find it on YouTube.

Speaking of YouTube, that's also where you can find Barry Manilow's VSM (Very Strange Medley). 

Manilow, a pop sensation in the 70's was a prolific jingle writer before he became famous as a singer songwriter with hits like Mandy, I Write the Songs", Can't Smile Without You, and Copa Cabana. He wrote jingles for McDonalds, Band-Aid, State Farm, KFC, Dr. Pepper, and others.

In concerts, he would often play his VSM which was a medley of his most famous commercial jingles.

OK, if you need some help, here are the jingles matched to their products/companies:

I don't want to grow up                                            Toys R Us

Gimme a break, 
gimme a break                                                          Kit Kat

My bologna has a first name                                    Oscar Meyer

Sometimes you feel like a nut                                  Almond Joy

They're magically delicious                                     Lucky Charms

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, 
oh what a relief it is                                                 Alka Seltzer

The best part of waking up                                      Folgers

I'm a big kid now                                                     Huggies

I'd like to teach the world to sing                            Coca-Cola 

So kiss a little longer, 
hold hands a little longer                                         Big Red

Like a good neighbor                                              State Farm

You deserve a break today                                      McDonald's

Monday, November 2, 2020

Writers Can Learn a Thing or Two from Maverick Kelvin Dorsey.

Here is a selection of Kelvin Dorsey quotes as a response to posting some on LinkedIn a while ago and getting a boatload of engagement.

If the audience wants more, give 'em more.

As I said in the original post, Kelvin Dorsey’s writing style is in your face, irreverent, and unique..

He breaks up his writing with asides such as: “Is this boring you? I don't blame you if it is. (I'm almost falling asleep writing about this stuff)”

Describing himself before reaching the age of 40, he said: “I rarely exercised, I had a diet that would gag a raccoon, and my boozing on the weekends would have concerned even Charles Bukowski.”

To make the point that you cannot make people want to do something they don’t want to do, he offers: “Listen, Houdini couldn't always get someone to help him with his stunts, Casanova got his fair share of slaps in the face, and even Jesus Christ couldn't persuade Judas to not be such an arsehole.”

Talking about turning off people with his style, he offers: “A nonbuyer is a nonbuyer is a nonbuyer! Are you getting this? Listen, let's say you own a steak house. Do you really want vegetarians walking into your restaurant? Exactly.”

A Buncha KD Quotes

You gotta whip your lazy, fat slob sentences and paragraphs into shape until they're lean and mean.


Know this: the only people on God's green earth who read sales copy for fun are copywriting fanatics. Everybody else (normal people) avoids sales copy like a gold-digger avoids prenups (I dunno why I keep going on about gold-diggers?) And if someone does start reading some sales copy, the second they become bored or confused by long-winded and flabby language, they skedaddle!


Copywriters who fall head over heels with a product are often guilty of neglecting their market. Yes, yes... it's good to love what you're promoting, but not if you love it more than you love the people you are selling to.


I see it all the time. People send me (unsolicited) their sales copy to critique and I can tell they got distracted by their own writing. Meaning, they get so focused on writing cute, clever and brilliant prose that they forget the purpose of their writing.


Wanna see a few examples of concrete language?

Alright then. Let’s do that.

Let’s suppose you wrote the following sentence: Mr. Buckwheat was very self-conscious.

Now, the word “self-conscious” is easy to understand, I guess, but it isn’t concrete. The word self-conscious is too abstract. It isn’t brought down to earth.

I shall now take the same sentence and bring it down to earth by using concrete language.

Like so:

Mr. Buckwheat was as self-conscious as a lycra-clad cyclist with an erection.

Now that sentence gives you something to hang your hat on, doesn’t it? (Best not to think too literally about that one)


I tellya, breaking the rules (being a maverick) will truly set you apart.

You'll get noticed while everyone else who's busy dotting their i's and crossing their t's and copying each other fade away into oblivion.

You'll start stealing the show.

And in the competitive world of email marketing, you can't afford to not stand out.

Verily I say, if you apply this mindset to your email marketing, it will be your name that stands out in your subscribers' inbox.


Sometimes quitting is the very best thing you can do.

For example, if you've been trying to get your cat swimming school off the ground for the last ten years and you live in a shack, drive a shitbox car, your wife needs clothes and baby needs shoes, and the wolf is at your door, then perhaps you should consider quitting your precious cat swimming school.


Listen: NEVER underestimate the lazy gene in humans.

We want what we want, and we want it right freakin' now!

We want to go from point A (our problem) to point B (the solution) in the quickest, easiest and most direct way humanly possible.


If you want to see them go buy buy instead of hearing bye-bye...

...You Best Get Your Marketing
Messages Well-Honed!

In other words, your marketing messages need to cut through the crap, move them emotionally, and get them to take the next logical step: hire you, sign up, or buy your stuff.



Toenail fungus, stretch marks, hemorrhoids, snoring, yeast infection.  Those markets are all layups. When a market has a problem that's both painful and embarrassing, selling becomes duck soup!


Email marketers are even more obsessed with image.

That’s right, they want all the bells and whistles. They jam-pack their emails with HTML, images, fancy fonts, beautiful color schemes, fancy logos and on and on it goes. It's HTML gone wild!

How pitiful.

To think any of that stuff will make your emails or marketing more effective is stupid on a plate.

All that stuff does is distract your subscribers from the one thing that matters - your sales message.


In the last month, what have you learned about copywriting, sales, persuasion, and marketing that has helped move the needle in your business?

If nothing comes to mind, then perhaps you have quit learning in regard to business, marketing, and sales. Hey, don't feel bad if that's the case. It happens to the best of us. I often quit learning. However, when I say quit learning, I mean maybe a week or two goes by where I haven't learned something new or gained new insight. I don't think I've ever gone longer than two weeks without learning something new about sales, persuasion, and copywriting or have at least gone deeper with what I already know.

Look, you'll never learn or know it all. But that's not the point. The point is to get smarter by continual learning.


I believe copywriters who use old and tired scarcity tricks like, for example, "Order now before Big Pharma makes us take this ad down", are lazy, unimaginative, and ham-fisted.

These corncob-brained copywriters are using something that worked very well in 2008, but I suspect most people see that stuff today and roll their eyes.


Now I'm going to teach you a little something I call the "under-over" copywriting secret.

Once you learn (and take it to heart) the "under-over" copywriting secret, you will instantly possess the mindset needed to write sales messages that drag in the bucks.

Okay, Buckwheat, let's roll.

The "under-over" copywriting secret is simply a mindset that:

always underestimates a prospect's intelligence and overestimates their skepticism. (Hey, I just learned how to underline words!)

Let's say you sell air conditioning units. Well, don't assume a prospect knows (or even wants to know) about the inside of your air condition units. They simply want to be able to sit at home in the summer and not sweat like a fat man eating soup.


No, if you truly want to master something, you can't just scratch around on the surface. You must dig down deep, and then KEEP ON digging. You know, when it comes to mastery, you actually never arrive. You can always go deeper. Kinda sucks really. But let's not dwell on the fact that you never really arrive at full knowledge or mastery.

What you should dwell on is the fact that if you're continually digging down deep, then you will be continually getting better.


= = = = = =

Kelvin Dorsey is a self-described email copywriter, sales savant, persuasion pundit, storyteller, author and maverick. You can find his books, such as 7 Silly Stories That Contain Sales, Copywriting, and Persuasion Secrets and 19 Proven Sales Secrets Every Online Marketer Needs to Know at Amazon and you can sign up for his newsletter at


The Parking Spot Next to the Front Door

“You could sell sawdust to a lumber mill,” said my boss as he threw his arm around Byron’s shoulders. The team applauded as Byron held up th...